Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fig Newton Moments

Although my husband's been gone for almost 7 years this June, I still have such intense flashes of grief at the most inopportune times, they almost knock me over. The pain is so deep it feels as if it happened just yesterday. How can this wound feel so fresh sometimes? Am I insane?'s been 7 years! I should be over it. Move on girl! These are the things I tell myself. It is because of those moments, I decided to attend a grief session, at the Hospice Center in my area, and it helped me so much.

The moderator talked about these very moments; and she described one of hers. While grocery shopping, rolling her cart down the cookie aisle, she told how she instinctively reached for the Fig Newtons. That may not sound strange, but the thing is, she didn't like Fig Newtons. But she always did the grocery shopping for her dad, and her dad loved them. Her dad has been gone for more than 2 years, so why did she, at that moment, set herself back in time and grab those Fig Newtons as though she planned to take them to his house? She called it a "Fig Newton Moment", and she said broke down, right there and then, cookies in hand...sobbing in the aisle.

She then reminded us that for those who were mourning multiple losses, the Fig Newton moments occur all over the place and who you're missing gets all mixed up. It made me feel less insane to recall that since my husband died, I lost a beloved aunt, my dad and most recently, my mom. And that its normal to miss them all at once and forget who I'm grieving and just feel plain old SAD!

So, I began to feel a little better about the fact that I seem to be the only one who doesnt' like Spring. Everyone around me thinks it is a great time of the year, and I just don't. Springtime for me is one Fig Newton moment after another. Phil died June 13th, and I recall that March and April were so torturous that year. I wanted the weather to get nice so he could enjoy what I knew would be his last spring. Every morning I'd check the weather forecast (and working in radio, I always knew the forecast) and it was always rain, rain mixed with snow, and then an occasional tease of a sunny day with a high near 60, if we were lucky. It was probably the coldest spring I can remember, or maybe it wasn't but it seemed that way. I was so angry. At God? At Mother Nature? At Dick Goddard? Can't we just have a nice day so he can enjoy what few days he has left?!

We had an okay May that year, and finally, by June 1st, the weather got warm. In his last 2 weeks of life when he couldn't get out to enjoy it. Of course the weather was fabulous on June 13th and beyond...especially on that Father's Day Sunday when we had his calling hours.

Every Spring since, I get the blues when I read the forecast, and it calls for rain mixed with snow... especially when its almost April. I get filled with emotion when I step outside and its cold and the rain stings my's like someone is pelting me with Fig Newtons!

So many of us are grieving so many things each and every day. You don't have to experience a death to experience grief. Your Fig Newton moment may come in the form of a song on the radio reminding you of a lost love as you grieve a divorce. Opening your closet looking at your work clothes may feel like a punch in the stomach as you reach for your sweats because you lost your job. The empty dog bowl in your kitchen reminding you of your beloved pet.

Loss comes in many forms, and it isn't something you get over. You just get used to it; and hopefully learn empathy and compassion from that pain. You are not not going nuts when you feel it...and neither am I. In fact, you're probably nuts if you don't.

So lean into it...and then, let's have a Fig Newton together, maybe with a cup of hazelnut coffee?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stuff I'm Thankful For

The lousy economic news hit a little closer to home recently, as one of my colleagues lost his job, and another good friend and her husband lost their home. I can't help but ponder the unfairness of all this as I think about how those AIG Execs are probably sitting around planning how to spend their bonuses. And the really frightening thing is that no one, not the IRS or even the President of the United States has the power to fix all the craziness.

I spent some time with my girlfriend this past Saturday night, and I was inspired by her attitude. Yes, they had lost their home, but, she said, they had so much to be thankful for. They were staying with her husband's mom, who loved having them. Her daughter was forging a new special relationship with her grandma. She and her husband now had some breathing room with some of the stress of the home loss behind them. They were looking forward. Things would get better she said. And, things could be worse. Wow. What a perspective.

One of my new favorite blogs to follow is called "Diary of A Frugal Hen Without A Rooster". Ms Hen has been through a lot in her life, struggles that would have others laying down and giving up. But often, God gives people amazing challenges, and then gives them some kind of a forum so that they can help others. And this is what He has seemingly done with both of these women. One of the things Ms. Hen does occasionally is jot down a list of the things she's thankful for. When I came home from work today, I was feeling a little down and blue, but then I thought to myself "snap out of it"! If others with worse problems than me are able to get up every morning, face the day and put one foot in front of the other and get on with life--than I can too. And I took a page out of the Frugal Hen's blog and made my own list:

I'm thankful for...

My health
My precious daughters
This roof over my head
Ringo, Tami and Charlie; always here to keep me company when I am lonely
My job, and that its one I enjoy
My eyesight, even though I complain I need reading glasses
My 6 siblings
The wrinkles around my eyes. I guess I must smile a lot
Every sunny day we get
My God
Hazelnut coffee
My digital camera
Stoli black martinis
The fireplace in my family room
My car with 133,000 miles and still running, and paid for!
The fenced in yard
Friends who inspire me
Co-workers I like
Good music
Red wine
This computer I'm typing on
Fuzzy footie socks

I know I could come up with more but I am getting tired, and I'm thankful I have a bed to go to sleep in. The next time you have the blues, might I suggest creating your own list.

It really is a great reminder than things aren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stars Are People Too

I recently returned from the Country Radio Seminar held annually in Nashville, Tennessee. CRS (as it is called) is 3 days of seminars and networking with other radio and music industry professionals. But the highlight for so many attendees is the opportunity to witness incredible musical showcases. The record companies are able to introduce the radio the rising stars in country music, as well us give us the chance to reconnect with the stars that made us fall in love with country music to begin with.

On the final night of CRS is an event called the New Faces of Country Music Dinner and Show. This was the 40th anniversary of CRS, and this year's show began with an entertaining video recap of experiences from years gone by. Artists like Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, and many more told stories about how nerve-wracking their New Faces performance was. They described their fear of playing in front of "radio people" who might hate them, think they stink and who had control over their careers. Impressing those in the room, or blowing it might mean the difference between getting their song played on the radio...or not.

As I wandered out of the room that night after hearing performances of this year's crop of New Faces: Kelli Pickler, Chuck Wicks, James Otto, the Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum, I thought it mind-boggling that these talented people were probably relieved the night was over, and that like the many who came before them, they were probably nervous, to play that room in front of all of us.

And I realized, that no matter how famous or infamous, in the end we're all just people. We all put our pants on the same way--even though some of them might be a bit more expensive than others! We all have egos that can be crushed and feelings hurt by a harsh word or stinging criticism. And it's this understanding that turns some of the New Faces into superstars, because they can connect with real stories about real feelings and real life; and that is what makes country music so great.

That night, I may have been there a "radio professional".

But more importantly, I was just a music lover and a country music fan.